Monday, March 11, 2013

Dear Parents

Dear parents who never turned in permission slips, fundraiser forms, signed progress reports, or goodness-knows-what-else on time, I silently judged you when I was a teacher, and I'm sorry! I had no clue what was going on behind the scenes, and most days now, I consider it a victory to have delivered my child to the correct school, on the correct day, with the correct backpack, and the correct lunchbag, on time. The other stuff is extra!

I know now that when a sheet requesting participation in an upcoming classroom party comes back with coffee spilled on it, it's not because you were all sitting around with papers strewn across the kitchen table while picking your noses and waiting to see who could drop a liquid on a paper first. In all likelihood, the coffee spilled while you were trying to extract papers from your child's backpack while balancing a crying toddler and trying to get your own caffeine fix to handle it all. Who knew?

I know now that when you told me that your kid's "I Am Special" project wasn't done until that morning even though you've known for months when the day would be is not because you don't think your child is special enough to put aside the time to do it with thought and care, it's because in those few months, you've been busy with 10,000 hugs, activities, trips, kisses, bike rides, and everything else that shows your kid that he is special. You didn't need a project like mine to let that kid now that she is special.

So thanks for doing it anyway. Thanks for letting us have a time just in the classroom to talk about how your child is special. Thanks for turning in the coffee-stained sheets, the second-request permission slips, showing up for conferences even if squirrely younger siblings are in tow, thanks for all that you do for your kid. I only see the tip of the iceberg. You're doing a great job. 

Ok, I never said that last part, but I'm saying it now. When I was a teacher, in my mind I could assent to the difficulty of the job of parenting, but I didn't really know behind the scenes how much was going on. I didn't know what it was like to have a kid at all, let alone juggling multiple kids. I thought I often gave the benefit of the doubt to parents who slipped here and there and I probably did. But I also know that I judged them sometimes, and I'd take it back if I could.

(If your feathers are getting ruffled, take a breath. It's just a reflection, with some generalizations, some simplifications, some imperfections even still. I'm admitting to being human.)

My boy Dean had his special day today at school. Each kid gets a turn and there is a little "presentation" or whatever you want to call it where you can do what you want. Dean was so excited. We did the poster before today (as in, yesterday :)), but not without multiple alarms on my iPhone to do so. :)


3 comments:

emka said...

I've been following your blog for some time and although I don't know you personally I like it a lot:) This post today is definitely on top of the list of my my favourites:)

Monika

Ali Foley Shenk said...

Hi Monika,
I'm so glad that you left a note! Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you loved this post!
Ali :)

Kate said...

He certainly is a special boy- what a cutie. I read your blog as the sweet daughter of a friend of mine has PWS.